Tales from the peloton, June 2, 2005
A special diary from the Wachovia week
There's more to professional racing than meets the eye. The closest the majority of spectators get to the action is at the start and finish of the races, or maybe even just watching it all on television and reading the race reports on the 'net and in the written press.
Cyclingnews' Sabine Sunderland was offered the unique opportunity to spend 11 days with the CSC team as the personnel and riders headed to America, where they will be at work in the CSC Invitational and the Wachovia race series. Join us this week for a look behind the scenes of what goes on before, during and after professional bike races.
Monday, May 30
10.30 am, the transfer from Washington to Philadelphia went smoothly, and the CSC team cars arrived on time at the Wyndham hotel.
The riders and personnel were well organised. While the soigneurs and mechanics unloaded material and suitcases, the riders went in to change into their cycling gear. Only half an hour after our arrival, Scott handed the guys some lunch money and they set out on the road for a three hour ride.
The staff brought the suitcases up to the rooms as soon as they were handed the keys, and Scott went to the managers' meeting and then discussed the team's schedule with the CSC people.
The riders returned from what had been interesting training. Bobby and Lars M. had been terrific guides and they had a ball when Andy attempted to climb the steps of the Philadelphia museum of arts on his bike. His Rocky impersonation wasn't what one could describe as successful.
A massage was well appreciated and after that was taken care of, the team gathered for dinner. The riders retreated to their rooms early and the staff engaged in very lively conversation. The CSC personnel is just about as competitive as the riders themselves and challenges were made and bets taken.
At the training camp in Austria, next July, the soigneurs will race the mechanics. The preparation for this duel will be taken very seriously. Training for it started the very next morning - the whole staff was sweating it out in the gym at 7am!
Tuesday, May 31: Lancaster Invitational
After breakfast, the riders went out for 1.5 hours training. The teams had lunch at the hotel before we all got in the cars and headed to Lancaster in convoy.
It was a scenic and very enjoyable trip, although not all riders might agree with me on that. Experience taught me that not too many riders appreciate a long drive before the start of a race, but the 1.5 hour hike wasn't too bad.
The race started at 4.30pm and was an excellent event. The CSC riders animated the race and showed the team colours in breaks and also at the front of the peloton. I tried to control my nerves while joining Scott and mechanic Frank in the team car for a couple of laps. We were second car in the race caravan, and it was exciting to see the race unfold so closely in front of us.
Somehow though, after being married to a pro for over a decade, I still haven't gotten used to the acrobatics that occur when a rider comes back to the car for mechanical assistance, or to pick up some bidons for the team mates, etc. It's a special experience to be in that car, that much I can assure you.
A quick bite to eat was arranged for the teams after the finish and by the time we headed back to the hotel, the clock was showing 8.45pm. The boys got hungry again on the way and they used a fuel stop very efficiently to get something to snack on... well ok, shakes and burgers. Scott reckons some of his boys have got hollow legs, there is no satisfying their appetite!
We arrived safe and sound at the hotel around 10.30pm. It had been a long day and the staff decided to clean up some bits and pieces, tuck the riders into bed and sit down for a couple of coldies in the hotel lobby (which by the way is constantly kept at fridge-like temperatures; nobody understands why, really).
Wednesday, June 1: The 'rest day'
In between Lancaster and Trenton race days, the teams get the chance to have a breather and most of the riders trained only for a couple of hours. Afterwards, some hung around in the hotel; others went sightseeing, shopping or some caught up on some sleep.
Allan Johansen and Scott were asked to go to the Cadence bike shop in Manayunk, to do a pre-recording of an interview which will be broadcasted next Sunday, before the live coverage of the USPRO Championships. The Cadence shop is co-owned by Brian Walton, ex-pro with Motorola and Saturn, among other teams. In the meantime, along with a few other American star riders, Bobby was attending a press conference at the Wachovia bank HQ.
The soigneurs Gavin and Josep went shopping for food, took care of some much-needed laundry and did massages as the riders returned from training. Mechanics Frank and Magnus checked the bikes and glued new tyres on the new carbon-fibre Zipp wheels. They also put together a new aluminium Cervelo bike for Bobby.
Summing all this up, with all the activity in and around the hotel, it occurs to me that indeed, this wasn't much of a rest day for most. But one thing is certain: everyone and everything is ready for tomorrow's race in Trenton!
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Sabine Sunderland
- A team dinner after the CSC Invitational.
- Pulling out the front of the team hotel for the Lancaster Invitational.
- Mental preparation before the race is all-important.
- Before the start - 'hollow legs', as Scott says.
- The Lancaster crew.
- The peloton.
- Sitting second in the convoy, it was a good view from the team car.
- That hill didn't hurt too much.
- Approaching the business end of the bike race.
- The turbo bottle.
- Team mechanic Frank adjusts the brakes on Lars Bak's bike
- Lars Bak gets some mechanical assistance.
- The pizza place is that way, Scott.
- Look, I don't care what you want - I'm keen for some Mickey-D's!
- After the race.
- A mechanic's work is never over.
- A rest day for the riders, but soigneur Josep Colomer is hard at work.
- The soigneur's room.
- This is where you go if you've got the munchies.
- Scott gives an interview on nutrition.
- A TV recording takes place on the rest day.